Sustainable Sales Training is about Attitudes and Habits

This week’s blog is by Leanne Hoagland-Smith, Founder and Chief Results Officer of ADVANCED SYSTEMS, an international human capital performance improvement firm that focuses on the creation sustainable results using positive return on investment solutions. Her book, Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits: The Keys to Unlocking Sales Success, is available in the Store.

Sales training is one of the few areas within the training and development industry to experience a growth in 2009. The areas of sales management and sales coaching are expected to secure approximately one-third of all dollars invested in sales training.

Yet the question remains: Will this help achieve the desired end result of more sales?

Given that training and development continues to be modeled after the K-16 educational experience, I strongly doubt the anticipated results of sales training will be any greater than in past years.  Yes, coaching is on the rise and is one of the few areas of learning that does demonstrate a positive return on investment.  However, for many small to medium size companies, hiring sales coaches for each sales person is not economically feasible.

What these companies can do instead is revise their sales training curriculums to focus more on developing positive attitudes and habits and less on honing sales skills and knowledge.  Some very expensive sales trainers and publishers of sales training curriculum might take offensive at this suggestion, but let’s look at what the sales research suggests:

  • Almost 50% of all sales leads are not followed up
  • 25% of sales people stop after the second contact
  • 12% of sales people stop after the third contact
  • 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
  • 80% of all sales are made on the fifth to 12th contact

This data reveals that the obstacle to sales people achieving their sales targets is not a lack of knowledge or skills, but rather poor attitudes and habits.

Sales professionals know leads keep them employed and the business sound.  Most also know that unless they are told to go to Hades, the sale can still be earned. Yet many lack the necessary attitudes and habits to do what they know they must.

The question sales trainers, sales coach and consultants should be answering is “Not do they know it?” but rather “Do they want to do it?”

When the sales training facilitation can generate the emotional buy in, or “what’s in it for me,” only then can it lead to “what’s in it for us?” as the organization.

Now is the time to invest in positive attitude and habit development within your sales training. Yes, sales skills are important, but the will (attitude) will always exceed the skill (knowledge).